Led Astray

Paul had discovered that false prophets had invaded the Corinthian church. He was concerned that comparing his own ministry with that of the false prophets could appear as foolish boasting. He expressed his main concern, however, in verse 3: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

The basis for Paul’s concern was that these false prophets in the church were talking about the same historical Jesus but were preaching Him a different way. He wrote, “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (verse 4).

Christology is the primary doctrine that separates Christianity from the cults. Orthodox Christianity asserts that Jesus is the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, the promised Messiah, who was one Person with two natures (fully God and fully man). Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24).

To believe in Jesus wrongly is to receive a different spirit. If what we have received is not the Holy Spirit, it can only be an evil spirit. Demons, like their leader, can masquerade as angels of light. These spirit guides will seldom reveal their true nature as long as we continue to believe a lie. Such demons are behind cults, which do the work of Satan as the cult leaders masquerade as servants of righteousness. Consequently, many cult members can appear to live righteous lives. Their beliefs are typically legalistic and their leadership extremely authoritarian.

If you have the wrong Jesus and the wrong spirit, you will have the wrong gospel. If Jesus isn’t who He said He is, then His sacrifice is not efficacious. His sacrificial death would be no different from the sacrifice of bulls and goats, which do not take away sin (see Hebrews 10:4). An erroneous gospel is not the gospel of grace but a false gospel of works. If we believe that Jesus did not die for the sins of humankind – as some cults teach – then we can be led to believe we must perform good works or religious services in order to receive forgiveness and eternal life.

At the other extreme, New Age philosophies see Jesus as the master psychic. New Agers believe that He had the “spiritual power” to see and hear things that others could not, and they seek that power and enlightenment through mediums and spirit guides. New Age practitioners say we don’t need a Messiah to die for our sins – we just need to be enlightened to the truth that we are gods. They have bought the original lie that Satan sold to Eve. In John 7, when Jesus taught in the Temple courts and revealed what was in the people’s hearts, the crowd answered, “You are demon-possessed” (verse 20). They knew what He said was true, but they believed that He was getting His information from demons, just like modern-day psychics.

Dr. Neil

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